Market Report - Celery Root, Salsify

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Laura Avery meets up with chef and Good Food friend Jean François Méteigner of La Cachette restaurant. Jean Francois describes the underappreciated vegetables: salsify and celeriac.

Salsify is a vegetable whose root and leaves are both edible. It is also referred to as white salsify, goatsbeard, vegetable oyster, and the oyster plant. The last two names reflect the root's taste, which when cooked, resembles an oyster. Salsify is a member of the sunflower family and its varieties are named French Blue Flowered and the Mammoth Sandwich Island. Its root is similar in appearance to a thin parsnip. Itt is long in length and is cream or white in color. From the top of the salsify, green, grass-like shoots emerge. These leaves are edible and can be used in salads.

Salsify and Oyster Soup
Makes 6 1/2 cups

This light but intensely oystery soup was inspired by a recipe from Joanne Hendricks, the proprietor of the eponymous vintage-cookbook store in New York City. Salsify is a root vegetable shaped like a skinny parsnip; it has blackish skin with white flesh and tastes a little like artichoke hearts. If you have trouble finding it (in fact, Carroll and Wingate had to ask architect Charles Renfro to bring some to Boston from New York), you can substitute Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) or, as a last resort, the pedestrian potato.

    * Juice of 1 lemon
    * 3/4 pound salsify or Jerusalem artichokes
    * 1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
    * 1 large white onion, finely chopped
    * Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    * 1/2 cup dry white wine
    * 2 cups clam juice
    * 1 cup water
    * 4 thyme sprigs
    * 1 cup heavy cream
    * 2 dozen freshly shucked oysters, oyster liquor reserved
    * Pinch of cayenne pepper
    * 1 tablespoon chopped parsley 


   1. Fill a medium bowl with cold water and add the lemon juice. Peel the salsify and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Add the salsify to the lemon water.
   2. In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain; reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the saucepan.
   3. Add the onion to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain the salsify. Add it to the saucepan and season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the salsify is almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add the wine to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the clam juice, water and thyme. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the salsify is tender, about 10 minutes longer.
   4. Add the cream, oysters, oyster liquor and cayenne and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the oysters are just cooked through. Discard the thyme sprigs. Season the chowder with salt and black pepper and ladle into warmed bowls. Top with the bacon and parsley and serve.

MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently before proceeding.  (from


Celeriac is a vegetable that is a member of the celery family, but only its root can be eaten.  It is also known as celery root, knob celery, and turnip rooted celery, celeriac has a taste that is similar to a blend of celery and parsley. When purchasing fresh celeriac, you can identify the celeriac by its large, bulbous root that grows to an average of 3.5 inches in length. Rough green stalks surround this root, which is light brown in color. When selecting a celeriac, choose only those with firm and small to medium-sized roots. Selecting smaller roots is better because smaller roots produce a more flavorful root taste. Additionally, although celeriac stalks and leaves are typically not eaten, make sure that the celeriac you purchase has leaves that are green and that are not wilted.

Celery Root Soup

2 large celery roots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
3 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 tablespoons Spanish dry sherry
Whole cream to garnish, if desired

1. In large soup pot over low heat, slowly sweat onions and celery root in olive oil, stirring often, allowing the juices to come forth, about 20-30 minutes. If mixture is dry and sticking to the bottom, add more oil or butter, or a splash of stock.

2. Add stock. Simmer until thoroughly cooked, about 45 minutes. Remove from stove and purie in batches in a blender with most of parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. To serve, place a tablespoon of sherry in each bowl. Ladle soup into bowl and garnish with a swirl of cream, if desired, and a sprinkle of parsley. Serve immediately.

Music Break: The Rally - Sound Studio Orchestra